St. Philip Neri fire

Rescuing The Blessed Sacrament

The Sacrifice Of Two Martyrs                             

Shortly after Noon on Monday February 20, 1967, an arsonist  set fire to St. Philip Neri Church, Rochester NY.   The Pastor, Reverend George J. Weinmann, rushed into the building to rescue the Blessed Sacrament.

 Assistant Pastor Reverend Leo J. Mans had tried to enter the church moments after Father Weinmann, but was forced back by the intensity of the smoke and flames. 

 Sister Lilian Marie McLaughlin SSND, a 2nd grade teacher at the parish school,  ran into the church in search of any children who may have been inside.   Finding none, she saw Father Weinmann near the tabernacle and went to his assistance.

They collapsed about six feet from the exit.  The ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament was later found in the confessional booth.  In the chaos of the flames and smoke, Fire Department investigators surmised the two had mistaken the confessional for the exit.

Sister Lilian Marie died at the scene, while Father Weinmann died two days later.

Rochester Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said this about her that day:

"Martyrs belong to our own times and in most unexpected moments. Sister Lilian Marie gave her life in helping Father Weinmann save the Blessed Sacrament from fire. Greater love than this no woman hath."

Of Father Weinmann, Bishop Sheen honored him as:

"martyred priest in behalf of his Blessed Lord"